Tourist Arrivals Near Full Recovery in December

Overall arrivals during 2019 down 19% vs 2018. – Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals in 2019 fell 18 percent from a year earlier to 1.9 million persons, following the Easter Sunday bombings, with the December arrivals nearly at par with 2018, official data showed.

Arrivals in December fell just 4.5 percent from a year earlier to 241,663 holidaymakers, a Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority report said.

Officials had in October estimated December arrivals to fall 20 percent, showing an acceleration in the recovery. Immediately after the attacks, arrivals had fallen 70.8 percent in May.

In December, a 5.8 percent growth was seen in Sri Lanka’s top tourism market India, with 45,797 Indian holidaymakers visiting the island.

British arrivals were the second highest, down 21.8 percent to 26,828, while the third highest were Russian tourist arrivals, up 56 percent to 11,258.

China, the third largest market in 2018, fell one spot 18,283 visitors, a contraction of 8.9 percent.

Arrivals from Australia were down 3.3 percent to 14,961 tourists, while 25.7 percent less holidaymakers (16,624) visited from Germany.

The year ended with India as the top market generating 19 percent of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka, but falling 16.4 percent from 2018.

The UK market, comprised of 10 percent of arrivals, falling 21.8 percent while China which contributed 9 percent to total tourists was down 36.9 percent.

The April bombings on three churches and three luxury hotels led to Sri Lanka’s tourism industry contraction in 2019. Although arrivals had recovered by end-December, Sri Lanka’s hotels had offered steep discounts in the preceding months to attract mostly budget travellers.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has recovered faster than expected, and has outperformed other terror-hit destinations such as Kenya, Egypt and Indonesia, where recoveries had taken two to three years after attacks.


Hospitality Insider Issue 4